A brief respite

After a whole lot of hassles which I’ll not bore you with, social services have at long last approved a week’s respite care for my partner.  He’ll be staying in a very nice residential home for a week, which just happens to be managed by someone who lived round the corner from me when I was a wean and is still a family friend – so I don’t need to worry about him being looked after properly.

The dug is going on a rural holiday, and is going to stay with some friends who live outside the city where he can spend a few days running in mud, barking at foxes and squirrels, and persuading the local dugs of the advantages of a yes vote by leaving messages in the form of pee on lampposts.  Pissing all over Scottish streets doesn’t work so well at persuading humans, that’s the big mistake being made by the no campaign.

And I’m off to London to visit family and friends.  After Davie Cameron made his plea for folk down south to call and beg us not to go, I sat by the phone for days.  But apart from a wee guy who was going on about reclaiming money from falsely sold payment protection or something (I wasn’t really listening), it didn’t ring.  I did thank the wee man for his call and asked if he really did love Scottish people, but he seemed to think I was making a sexual advance and rapidly hung up.

I’ll need to use that tactic again with cold callers.  It’s almost as effective at getting rid of unwanted calls as telling Mormon missionaries that you are delighted with their visit as you are deeply ecumenical and believe that it’s important that people of faith share their experiences  – then casually mentioning that you’re a Satanist and inviting them to sacrifice a chicken with you while smiling and asking “You’re a virgin, aren’t you?”

By the way, I’m already thinking of tactics to lure in any no campaigners who appear on my doorstep, so I can make them waste a half hour or more of campaigning time.  There’s not many no campaigners, and the more time we can make them waste the better.  So be very nice and polite to them, and offer them a wee cup of tea.

Meanwhile I’m away to see our English family and friends in person, before they turn into foreigners and I won’t understand anything they’re talking about.  Mind you, two of them are my daughters, and they’re already foreign.  But that’s got nothing to do with them being English, and everything to do with the workings of the teenage female mind being deeply alien to a middle aged man.  But it will still be great to see them.

So there won’t be any updates to the blog until the end of next week.  I’ll try and log on from time to time to authorise any new comments that haven’t appeared automatically, but I’ll only have intermittent access to the internet when I’m away.  If you have posted comments previously, you should now be authorised and your comments will appear immediately, everyone else will have to wait.  Sorry ’bout that.  Normal service will be resumed after we all get back home – which is Thursday 6 March.

Hit and run

For the first time since the 1920s, the UK cabinet has deigned to meet in Scotland.  They love us so much that they visit us once a century.  Not that they’re taking any questions from the Scottish public mind.  Michael Gove will be there and they’re meeting in Aiberdeen, so he’ll have warned them that the Tories and their Lib Dem dangleberries are about as popular as second hand toilet paper.  Which is why he had to run away south in order to find people who’d vote for him, and managed to pick up a very peculiar accent on the way.

We’ve already had a series of UK cabinet ministers popping up north of the border in order to make a dire warning about the terrible things that will befall us if we don’t have the Tories to look after us.  They haven’t made any dent in the level of support for Yes, which keeps growing despite the scare tactics.  So now they’re coming en masse.

Before we just had hit and run visits, now we have a multiple collision.  But never fear, our caring sharing cabinet ministers will be fully protected by the airbags of the media and won’t shoot through the windscreen and end up prostrate in Union Street.  It’s only Scotland which lies prostrate on Union Street, and that’s the way the Tories like it.

The point of the visit, obstensibly, was to big up the North Sea oil business.  The real purpose was of course to tell Scots that we are too wee to run it all by our little selves.  Small countries can’t cope with vast wealth you see, we need big countries to spend it for us.  We’d just fritter it away on some square sausage pieces, a bottle of Irn Bru, rebuilding our shattered industries, and a sovereign oil fund.  The wise heads of the UK know far better than we do how to make use of the bonanza, like spending it on tax cuts for millionaires, transport infrastructure for London, and benefit payments for people who’ve been thrown on the scrap heap by the UK’s economic policies.

Cameron claimed that the oil industry needed the “broad shoulders” of the UK to support it.  That would be the same broad shoulders that barge Scotland’s interests out of the way then.  His remarks must have come as a surprise to all those small countries like Norway which seem to be quite capable of managing a successful oil industry without the assistance of Etonian schoolboys.

The oil industry makes up a far larger proportion of the Norwegian economy than it does of Scotland’s, yet the Norwegians seem quite able to cope.  And they make a far better fist of it than the UK does.  Perhaps Norway has blessings which Scotland doesn’t have.  Oh wait, it does.  It doesn’t have its government chosen for it by Tories living next door or a Labour party that has to chase votes in Tory marginal seats in Sweden in order to form a government.

Wee Alistair Carmichael, who was invited to the Tory cabinet meeting so that he could make the tea, asserted that coming to Aiberdeen wasn’t a Tory stunt.  Quite right Alistair, it’s another word that rhymes with stunt.

Naturally he rejected the repeated calls for Cameron to debate with Salmond, claiming that Salmond wants to make this about Scotland vs England.  Cameron, the Prime Minister of Scotland, doesn’t actually have anything to do with the governance of Scotland apparently.  At least not enough to make him stand before the Scottish people and answer our questions about why we ought to allow him to keep his job.

There is no logic to the Unionist argument.  Either Cameron is Prime Minister of Scotland, and by virtue of that fact and no other he is fully involved in this debate – and that’s without considering the thousands the UK Government has spent producing a series of cabinet papers telling Scotland that we’ll be bombed by the RAF, have terrorists blow up our power stations, and be left lonely and friendless like the North Korea of Western Europe.  Or we accept the Unionist position, and Cameron has no involvement in the governance of Scotland – in which case the man and his job are pointless and Scotland derives no benefit from being a part of the Union.  So which is it Alistair?

Are we really better together with a distant bunch of privileged oafs who only see Scotland through the rearview mirror of a ministerial motor, which is tanked up on Scottish oil so it can drive off and leave us behind in a post industrial wasteland?  That’s a far more vital question than the oil.

The answer is blindingly obvious.  Except of course to Alistair Carmichael.

Puerile bile and contemptuous invective

We’re doing things all wrong you know.  After spending the past 18 months or so sneering contemptuously, ignoring all positive arguments for independence, and belittling Scotland’s chances of making it as an independent state, the Observer/Guardian has decided that Scots are not having the debate we’re supposed to be having.  Apparently we’re being childish and puerile.  And this from the paper whose response to the announcement of the referendum question was to publish a cartoon saying “Do you think that Scotland should just f*** off.”

In Guardian Towers the view is that there’s too much bile in the independence debate.  No shit Guardian.  And it’s mostly coming from the pages of Guardian editorials, aided and abetted by the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, and the BBC.

I’m quite happy to admit that my blog posts are often childish and puerile.  I can do contempt and invective too.  That’s the appropriate response to being treated like an idiot, and being patronised and dismissed by clueless ignoramuses whose knowledge of Scotland and its political landscape begins and ends with a vague awareness that Scotland doesn’t like the Tory party.  Contempt and scorn is the only possible reply to Unionist politicians and their media outlets who deliberately lie and misinform in order to preserve their career prospects.  You can’t have a debate with liars.

But it seems that it’s just childish bile to point this out.  Calling someone a liar is unhelpful to a debate, even when they are indeed liars and so are preventing the possibility of any meaningful debate taking place.  In fact, that’s the entire strategy of the Tory funded Better Together campaign and its peculiar lack of any public engagement.  Westminster didn’t want this debate to happen, doesn’t want electors to engage with it, and is doing its utmost to cover the entire process in mud and misunderstanding in an effort to prevent Scots from participating.  Only one side is represented in the media.  It’s the exact opposite of a debate in a representative democracy.

And the Guardian/Observer enthusiastically goes along with it.  So much for their liberal credentials.  We expect this sort of thing from the Mail or the Telegraph.  But when the supposedly progressive Guardian does it too it adds an extra seasoning of hypocrisy to the bubbling pot of bile.  It’s a recipe from the George Osborne Cookbook.

Because there is no doubt about it.  Does the Guardian/Observer honestly believe that Alistair Darling and George Osborne don’t know that Scotland cannot legally default on UK national debt?  Does it understand that our political masters know that Scotland cannot be prevented from using Sterling?  Does it believe that Barroso didn’t know that in making his statement on Scottish independence he was exceeding his authority, interfering in subjects that are not his to opine on, and undermining the democratic basis of the EU Treaties?

Does the Guardian/Observer not know all these facts too?  Because if that’s the case, what is it doing describing itself as a newspaper – there’s more rigorous investigative journalism in a primary school newsletter.

And if the writer of Guardian/Observer editorials does understand the simple and self-evident truth, that Scotland cannot be prevented from using Sterling and no one can be held legally responsible for a debt in someone else’s name, and that the EU is pledged to support, defend, and accept the legitimate constitutional processes of representative democracy in member states, then it’s still not a newspaper, it’s a lying propaganda sheet.  And as previously pointed out, you cannot have a debate with a liar.

Unionist politicans have many many faults.  But they are not actually suffering from perceptual disorders or learning difficulties.  I understand how dementia affects a human being, and Alistair Darling doesn’t suffer from it.  That doesn’t prevent him conveniently forgetting things he said just a few weeks or months ago – like his statement that a currency union would be in the best interests of both Scotland and the rest of the UK.

They know the truth.  They just choose not to tell it, and the Guardian/Observer, the BBC and the rest of the Unionist media pack choose not to investigate the veracity of their statements.  They simply present them uncritically as a “major blow to independence”.

This is our debate Guardian/Observer.  We will have it on our terms, not yours.  And we’ve been having an informative and bile free debate here in Scotland.  You’re just not reporting it.  Scotland welcomes you to participate if you want to participate in a real debate.  But if the paper is going to continue to lie, smear, misinform and patronise, the Guardian/Observer and its leader writers can just fuck off – and you can take Alistair Darling, George Osborne, and Alistair Carmichael with you.   There’s some puerile invective you can add to your collection.

Nul points

Project Fear has got around to delivering a special fearbomb just for Scotland’s gay community, or more specifically, middle aged gay men who find the Eurovision song contest hysterically funny.  Exploding in a shower of sparkly dust and some cast off feather boas came the threat that Scotland won’t be allowed to enter the Eurovision song contest if we become independent.

The rest of Europe will enjoy an evening of expressing historical grievances through the medium of collective camp, but there will be no spangly tartan fabulosity for Scotland set to a dire tune with meaningless lyrics, and we’ll be left with the drab surroundings of a karaoke hymn night at John Mason’s church.   Or if we’re really lucky, indoor bowling from Coatbridge.

The Daily Mail, thrilled that it had finally found a way to piss off gay people, lovers of kitsch, and Scots simultaneously, reported that an independent Scotland would be forced to leave the European Broadcasting Union and would have to reapply to join.  The EBU is the international association of broadcasters which organises the Eurovision Song Contest, and entry is only open to EBU members.  So it’s the whole EU schtick all over again, only this time we’ll be vetoed by a Slovenian drag queen dressed as an airhostess.

According to the Mail, when they telephoned the press guy at the EBU fishing for a quote they could manufacture into a scare story, he told them that membership of the organisation is not automatic.

So there ye go.  Membership is not automatic.  That’s us telt then.  Without the blessings of the UK we’ll never get to score nul points.  That’s just how crap we are, we can’t even fail properly, we need the BBC to fail on our behalf.   Scotland could never dream of producing an artiste with the expressive range and sensitive vision of a UK Eurovision entry like the Brotherhood of Man.  We have no clapped out performers well past their sell by date as we’ve exported them all – there’s another Union benefit we’d never considered – although it might be a possible new career for Ian Davidson after independence.  Mind you the thought of a bespangled Ian Davidson singing Save All Your Kisses For Me goes so far beyond the line between bad and so bad it’s funny it ends up somewhere deeply disturbing.  So maybe not.

However it seems that the substance of the Mail’s scare lay in nothing more than the statement that membership of the EBU is not automatic.  Which presumably means there are conditions which must be fulfilled for membership.  The Mail did not specify what these conditions might be, it sufficed to tell us that the list was “long and complicated”, but it’s probably a safe bet that one of them is that there must actually be a Scottish national broadcaster to apply for membership, and a set of Scottish broadcasting regulations for it to operate under.

Unaware that telling us we don’t currently have a Scottish national broadcaster or control over our own broadcast media is actually a reason for independence and not a threat as such, the Mail ploughed on in its very own descent into so bad it’s funny kitsch.

In all seriousness, the paper warned that Spain might veto Scottish membership in case it gives the Catalans the subversive notion that they too have the sovereign right to demonstrate an affection for camp self mockery while singing Ring-dinge-ding.  Mariano Rajoy is already looking for a clause in the Spanish constitution that forbids it.

Certain by now that Scots will vote no when we realise that we won’t be able to join the Nordic block voting bloc after all, and smugly exchange douze points with Iceland every year because we’re both world renowned experts in tastefully shot videos of people in knitwear singing on mountaintops in the rain, the Mail explained that we’ll lose the UK’s opt-out, or rather opt-in.   The UK is one of the big five you see.  Britain’s vapid pop star wannabes are vapid pop star wannabes with a seat at the big table.  The BBC, and the national broadcasters of Spain, Italy France and Germany pay the largest share of the costs of the contest, their entries automatically get through to the final so Graham Norton can witter some cheery double entendres about them.

Scotland would have to go through the qualifying rounds and get to the back of the Graham Norton banter queue.  It could be like the World Cup in Argentina all over again, same piss poor choreography, only with sequins.  The very horror.

However the number of Scots whose decision about how to vote in September depends heavily on our chances of Eurovision success is probably equal to the number of votes secured by the UK’s dire Eurovision entry in 2003.  It scored nul points too.  And falling into the category of ye couldnae make it up, the song was called Cry Baby.

Project Fear, another Cry Baby that’s scoring nul points.

The fearbomb hat-trick

There’s something that’s been bugging me for a while.  It’s Irish people.  Not that Irish people bug me, far from it.  It’s the total absence of discussion of Ireland and the Irish in the context of this debate Scotland is currently having about who is furren and who isn’t.

Speaking personally, and I’m quite sure my sentiments are shared by the overwhelming majority of Scots, Irish people are no more nor less foreign than English people or Welsh people.  Which is to say, not very foreign at all then.  People who know what tottie scones and sodie breid are can’t possibly be foreign, even if they do call them potato farls and soda bread.

So the question I keep coming back to, when I hear Unionists warn in the direst terms about the awfulness of us becoming foreigners to the rest of the UK and breaking those shared bonds we have, is what exactly is it we share in terms of culture, identity and history with the Welsh and the English, but not with the Irish as well?  Because all those shared things are shared quite independently of the bonds of the Westminster Parliament, which seems to be the only bond in the equation – we’re bound by their decisions and don’t have much in the way of remedy.  More a shackle than a bond.

The bad news for the Better Together mob is that the only single answer is “the Royal family”.  It’s dubious whether the Windsors could be considered “culture”, though they are a parasitic growth which could be grown in a petri dish, so I suppose that’s culture of a sort.

However Irish people tend to have quite strong opinions about the British monarchy, especially those in the northern bits, but it’s also far from foreign amongst those in the Republic.  This is not something you often find amongst people in properly foreign parts.  Properly foreign foreigners have no more interest in the Windsors than the average Scottish person has in the King of Thailand.  Can you name the King of Thailand without Googling it?  No.  Neither can I.

In any event we’d still have that particular circus after independence, what with Liz already being Queen of Scots quite separately from her claim to the throne of England – or to give her her more accurate title north of the border, “Queen of Those Scots Who Give a Shit About the Monarchy”.  There’s more than a few Scots who fully intend to press for us to go down the Irish route with respect to the Windsors just as soon as we get independence, so republican sentiments are not really something we can be told we don’t share with Ireland.

This can only mean that citizens of the Irish Republic are foreigners who have cunningly disguised themselves not to seem foreign at all.  So even if we do end up as foreigners to the rest of the UK if we vote for independence, we can just borrow the cloaking technology from Dublin.  Sorted.

However some clown in the Telegraph was opining the other day that since the UK is a constitutional monarchy where the sovereign is bound to act on the advice of the Prime Minister, Davie could have a wee word in Liz’s shell-like and advise her not to become Queen of Scots after independence.  Bash. Kapowie. Blam.  Take that Scottish separatists.  You’ll be proper foreigners without the Queen.

Peter Oborne, who apparently gets paid for this stuff, wrote:

“Cameron has already denied Scotland the pound sterling. He is entitled to deny the Scots the House of Windsor, especially since the Scots had their own separate monarch before James the VI and I unified the crowns of England and Scotland in 1603.”

He then goes on to suggest Scotland invites this mad auld Spanish bat to become Queen, the conveniently titled Duquesa de Alba, because she’s a direct descendant of the Stuarts and has an unfortunate resemblance to Phil Spector in drag.  At first I thought he might be making a witty play on the wummin’s title and the Gaelic name for Scotland,  but that would require some actual knowledge of the country Oborne is so ready to denigrate.

His staggering lack of understanding was already illustrated in his first sentence, when he said Cameron had “denied Scotland the pound”, so I should have realised.  Scotland can’t be denied the pound, we can use it without Westminster’s permission – and we can leave the debt behind too.  This might not be the preferred option of the Scottish Government, which proposes to be studiously reasonable and helpful to the UK Treasury post-independence, but it sure as hell is mine.

The only reason Oborne mentioned la Duquesa is because she’s stinking rich.  Obscenely rich.  This allows him to make a Metropolitan sneer about how she’d be able to bail Scotland out.  Oborne, like the rest of the London commentariat, suffers from the quaint delusion that Scotland is the Big Issue Seller of Europe, dependent upon the charity of good people like him.  And we jolly well ought to be grateful.  Someone’s in for an unpleasant shock after Scottish independence, and it’s not going to be Scottish people.

Nevertheless, I’d like to add my wee voice to Oborne’s plea to Cameron to tell Liz she can’t come over all queeny in Scotland.  It would save Scottish republicans the bother of having to campaign for a republic post-independence, and it would piss off Scottish monarchists no end and drive them into the yes camp.  So it’s a win win.

We’ll have our Dublin made not-foreign cloaking devices, a Scottish republic, we’ll still use the pound and have no national debt.  Thank you Westminster for giving us the hat-trick.  Can we have more of these fearbombs please?  They’re really pretty tasty.

Wowie Bowie

With absolutely no apologies to David Bowie.

There’s god-awful cuts in welfare
and Scotland’s saying nae mair
But the Tories are yelling “No”
though we’ve told them we want them to go
And Johann is nowhere to be seen
As she walks
through the shattered dream
of a party that’s gone true blue
Labour’s hooked to the Tory scheme
But Westminster’s a saddening bore
For we’ve seen it
ten times or more
So we’ll spit in the eyes of fools
As Scotland will focus on

MPs lying through their back teeth
Oh man!
Look at those cavemen go
it’s the Commons freak show
Take a look at the pressman
Feeding all the Scots lies,
Oh man! But we already know
It’s a one sided show
There’s no truth with Marr.

It’s to Osborne’s threatening vow
That our country
will not kowtow
And we Scots will rule our ain hame
so we can’t be sold out again
by the media’s ignorant hordes and careerists and the hopes they’ve whored
So we’ll keep on using the pound
and are deaf to the scares of clowns
‘Cause Westminster’s a saddening bore
and we’ve stood it
ten times or more
Vote no and it comes again
And that’s why we focus on

Food banks stretching down the high street
Oh man!
But what would a rich singer know
about this Tory freak show
Take a look at the pressman
Feeding all the Scots lies,
Oh man! But we already know
It’s just the Westminster show
There’s no truth with Marr.



Barroso gets a Basque bollocking

The Basque newspaper Deia has taken an exceedingly dim view of José Manuel Barroso’s spectacularly unsuccessful attempt at not interfering in subjects beyond his remit on the Andrew Marr show the other day.

In an editorial published on Tuesday, the newspaper makes some points about the European Union which don’t often get aired in the UK media – because they don’t accord with the favoured position of Westminster and the Guardiatelegramail.  That position being Scotland bent over with its legs apart and ready to be shafted.

So it’s worth repeating Deia’s points for a Scottish readership.  The points the paper makes are far more fundamental to the entire structure and purpose of the EU than arguments about whether Scotland can join via article 48 or article 49.  Deia argues that Scotland must be admitted as a full member, without being excluded, as this is the only option which is in accordance with the most basic principles of the EU, as expressed in the EU Treaties Carmichael and Darling are so fond of citing selectively.

I’ve translated the editorial, written in Spanish, into English.  You can read the original Spanish language version by clicking on the link above.  Like a lot of Spanish language newspaper editorials, it’s in a verbose and wordy style of writing, with long sentences that you have to pick your way through carefully.  It’s a style of writing that works better in Spanish than in English, because it’s pure dead Latin, but I’ve tried to keep the translation as close to the original as possible.


Scotland, European Evidence

The stance of high officials of the EU with respect to its independence from Great Britain exceeds the limits that the [European] Treaties attribute to the institutions of the Union and pervert several of its fundamental principles. 

The repeated public stance of high officials of the European Union with respect to the democratic processes which are developing to determine the bilateral relation of some nations (Scotland and Catalonia) with those member states of the Union in which they are inserted exceed the role which the successive treaties of Rome, Maastricht and Lisbon attribute to European institutions and pervert some of the foundational principles, values, and objectives of the EU, submitting them to state interests.  

So one can consider what happens, for example, to fundamentals such as subsidiarity, the respect for national identities or that of representative democracy, contained within the Treaty of the European Union signed in Maastricht in February 1992. 

With respect to the first, article 5 Chapter 1 (Communal Dispositions) of the Treaty of European Union, blocks any community intervention in ambits which are not within its exclusive competence, such as would be the case of decisions agreed between Edinburgh and London on the Scottish referendum. 

Regarding national identity, the European Court of Justice has already defined it as “the combination of powers necessary so that the member state may configure, with complete freedom, the conditions of the economic and social life of its citizens”, from which cannot logically be excluded a negotiated split between the parts [of the member state] which has democratic support. 

Thus, the EU, its institutions and representatives, may only consider a similar process with the utmost respect for the principle of representative democracy stipulated in the Treaty and in the second paragraph of its first article:  “This Treaty marks a new stage in the process of creating an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe, in which decisions are taken as closely as possible to the citizen.”

Finally, consider, how the president of the European Commission, José Manuel Durao Barroso has made membership of the EU out to be “very difficult if not impossible” if the Scots opt for a yes to independence this 18th of September, barges into a debate from which he ought to refrain, and also ignores the evidence that Scotland comes historically in possession of representation in the European Parliament, which by virtue of the Treaty of Lisbon is the sovereign body of the Union. 

Translation ends

Insisting that Scotland must leave the EU breaches the principles upon which the EU was founded, and would deprive Scotland of democratic representation in the sovereign body of the EU, the EU Parliament.  Since the EU Parliament is the sovereign body according to the Treaty, the EU Parliament would have to vote to exclude its Scottish representatives, the European Commission doesn’t have the power to order their exclusion.  But calling such a vote would fall foul of the EU prohibition on interference in the internal democratic and constitutional affairs of an EU member state.

A vote on excluding Scottish MEPs would be illegal.  In fact any vote on excluding Scotland from any EU provision, obligation, or benefit would be illegal, because we will have achieved our independence democratically, constitutionally, and fully in accordance with the fundamental principles the EU Treaty commits EU bodies to uphold.

This is an important point.  It is for the people of Scotland to decide our own constitutional living arrangements, the UK constitution permits this.  So it is not a matter for the EU, it is an internal matter which the EU is pledged to support and protect.  If, following a democratic and constitutional process, some citizens of the UK become citizens of an independent Scotland, while others either remain citizens of a continuing UK or become citizens of a new state comprising England, Wales and Northern Ireland (it makes no difference which) – the foundation treaties of the EU oblige it to accept the new situation.

So how exactly does Better Together square its insistence that Scotland would be forced out of the EU with the commitment of the EU to create an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe, in which decisions are taken as closely as possible to the citizen?  There doesn’t seem to be any extra clause in the treaty adding the rider “except if they’re Scottish, Catalan, Basque, Galician, Welsh or Corsican and they vote for independence”.  And in the absence of that wee qualification, the only course left for the EU is to accept the fact that where there was once one EU member state, there would now be two – the UK/rUK or whatever it chooses to call itself, and Scotland.

So not only was Barroso interfering in the democratic right of the people of Scotland, he was also undermining one of the most basic and fundamental principles of the very organisation he’s supposed to represent.

None of these are points that Andrew Marr, nor indeed anyone else on our national broadcaster or the rest of the UK media, have considered worthy of raising.  Funny that.